Biography of George H. Thomas
Celebrated American Biographies





GEORGE H. THOMAS, the "Rock of Chickamauga," one of the best known commanders during the late Civil war, was born in Southampton county, Virginia, July 31, 1816, his parents being of Welsh and French origin respectively. In 1836 young Thomas was appointed a cadet at the Military Academy, at West Point, from which he graduated in 1840, and was promoted to the office of second lieutenant in the Third Artillery. Shortly after, with his company, he went to Florida, where he served for two years against the Seminole Indians. In 1841 he was brevetted first lieutenant for gallant conduct. He remained in garrison in the south and southwest until 1845, at which date with the regiment he joined the army under General Taylor, and participated in the defense of Fort Brown, the storming of Monterey and the battle of Buena Vista, After the latter event he remained in garrison, now brevetted major, until the close of the Mexican war. After a year spent in Florida, Captain Thomas was ordered to West Point, where he served as instructor until 1854. He then was translerred to California. In May 1855, Thomas was appointed major of the Second Cavalry, with whom he spent five years in Texas. Although a southern man, and surrounded by brother officers who all were afterwards in the Confederate service, Major Thomas never swerved from his allegiance to the government. A. S. Johnston was the colonel of the regiment, R. E. Lee the lieutenant colonel, and W. J. Hardee, senior major, while among the younger officers were Hood, Fitz Hugh Lee, Van Dorn and Kirby Smith. When these officers left the regiment to take up arms for the Confederate cause he remained with it, and April 17th, 1861, crossed the Potomac into his native state, at its head. After taking an active part in the opening scenes of the war on the Potomac and Shenandoah, in August, 1861, he was promoted to be brigadier general and transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, January 19-20, 1862, Thomas defeated Crittenden at Mill Springs, and this brought him into notice and laid the foundation of his fame. He continued in command of his division until September 20, 1862, except during the Corinth campaign when he commanded the right wing of the Army of the Tennessee. He was in command of the latter at the battle of Perryville, also, October 8, 1862.

On the division of the Army of the Cumberland into corps, January 9, 1863, General Thomas was assigned to the command of the Fourteenth, and at the battle of Chickamauga, after the retreat of Rosecrans, firmly held his own against the hosts of General Bragg. A history of his services from that on would be a history of the war in the southwest. On September 27, 1864, General Thomas was given command in Tennessee, and after organizing his army, defeated General Hood in the battle of Nashville, December 15 and 16, 1864. Much complaint was made before this on account of what they termed Thomas' slowness, and he was about to be superseded because he would not strike until he got ready, but when the blow was struck General Grant was the first to place on record this vindication of Thomas judgment, He received a vote of thanks from Congress, and from the legislature of Tennessee a gold medal. After the close of the war General Thomas had command of several of the military divisions, and died at San Francisco, California, March 28, 1870.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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